Tag Archives: Tale of the Panto Cat

Story length through Jinty’s life

I have created a new page listing the stories in Jinty by publication date. This seemed like an interesting and useful addition to the list of stories in alphabetical order that has been in place on the blog since we started. As part of the information on that new page it seemed sensible to count the number of episodes for each story, too (where possible) – luckily for me, the Catawiki data that I was using to compile this information gave me the ability to include that for almost all stories. As I put together the list, I got the impression that in the last year of Jinty‘s publication, the story length was getting shorter and shorter: so I pulled together some stats on it.

For each year below, there are some stories I excluded from the statistics, either because I didn’t have a complete count of all the episodes (for instance where a story had started in Lindy or Penny before their merger with Jinty), or because they were by their nature long-running humour strips with no specific start or end point. I’ll give a list of the excluded stories and their running lengths further down this post.

  • For 1974, the mean story length is just under 16 episodes and the mode (most usual) story length is 13 episodes
  • For 1975, the mean is just under 18 episodes and the mode is 16 episodes
  • For 1976, the mean is just under 15 episodes and the mode is 19 episodes
  • For 1977, the mean is just over 14 episodes and the mode is 11
  • For 1978, the mean is just over 16 episodes and the mode is 18
  • For 1979, the mean is just over 14 episodes and the mode is 12
  • For 1980, the mean is 11.5 episodes and the mode is 12
  • For 1981, the mean is 11 episodes and the mode is 10

We can see that the two averages do go up and down over the run of Jinty. Having said that, the drop-off in episode length in 1980 and 1981 does look like a real change, despite that context of background variation. (I’m not going to do any full-on statistical analysis with standard deviations and so on though!) Both average figures are down in those two years, because there are fewer long stories pushing up the mean as well as a general trend to the slightly shorter length of 10 – 12 episodes.

Which stories did I exclude from the analytics, and why?

  • The humour strips with no specific story arc: “Dora Dogsbody” (94 episodes), “Do-it-Yourself Dot” (62 episodes), “The Jinx From St Jonah’s” (112 episodes), “The Snobs and the Scruffs” (12 episodes), “Desert Island Daisy” (9 episodes), “Bird-Girl Brenda” (27 episodes), “The Hostess with the Mostess” (19 episodes), “Bet Gets The Bird!” (11 episodes), “Alley Cat” (163 episodes), “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!” (111 episodes), “Bizzie Bet and the Easies” (27 episodes), “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost” (96 episodes).
  • “Merry at Misery House” (66 episodes) is not a humour strip but like those above, it has no specific overall story arc, no obvious beginning or end that is worked towards throughout its run. I have therefore excluded that too. The same goes for “Pam of Pond Hill” which ran to a mighty 126 episodes in Jinty and then on into Tammy of course.
  • The stories that I have incomplete episode information about: “Finleg the Fox”, “Penny Crayon”, “Hettie High-and-Mighty”, “Gypsy Rose” (these stories are not catalogued on Catawiki as a group), “Rinty n Jinty”, “Seulah the Seal”, “Tansy of Jubilee Street”, and “Snoopa”. Various of those would be excluded even if I had complete episode numbers, of course.
    • Edited to add: further information has been given in the comments below. “Finleg” and “Hettie” ran for 7 episodes in Lindy, and “Tansy” ran for 45 episodes in Penny. “Seulah” ran for 11 episodes in Penny, and then started a new story in Jinty & Penny, which I hadn’t really realised. The two Seulah stories were more like separate arcs in a bigger story than self-contained stories in themselves. Many thanks to Marc for this information! I will add them into the spreadsheet and see if it makes any difference to the years in question.
    • “Snoopa” ran for 45 episodes in Penny, which Mistyfan confirms below (many thanks). As a gag strip, this would not be included in the year-on-year statistics in any case.

Longest run of an individual story? “Alley Cat” has all the others beat, at 163 episodes; runners-up are “Pam of Pond Hill” at 126 episodes, and then “The Jinx From St Jonah’s” and “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!” neck and neck at 112 and 111 episodes respectively. However, if you exclude these and look at the length of the ‘normal’ stories, then the top three are “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (36 episodes), “Fran of the Floods” (35 episodes), and “Always Together…” (29 episodes). (Phil Townsend does particularly well for long-running stories, as “Daddy’s Darling” clocks in at 24 episodes and “Song of the Fir Tree” at 22 episodes.)

At the other end of things are some short stories. There are only two single-episode stories: “Holly and the Ivy” and “Mimi Seeks a Mistress”. “Freda’s Fortune” is the only two episode story. “Mimi” was a reprinted story, printed towards the end of 1980; possibly “Holly” and “Freda” were intended for publication in annuals or summer specials and then used as filler.

There are a few 3 or 4 episode stories: “The Birds”, “The Changeling”, “Casey, Come Back!”, and “The Tale of the Panto Cat”. This is also an odd length for a story – long enough to allow for a bit of development, but short enough to feel a bit abruptly cut off when you get to the end. Of these four, I’d say that “The Birds” is the one I find uses its length most successfully, though “Panto” works pretty well as a seasonal short. The slightly-longer “Her Guardian Angel” (5 episodes) likewise uses its length reasonably well to give us a seasonal amusement.  Some other shorter stories, such as “Badgered Belinda” (7 episodes), do read like they have probably been cut down from an originally-intended standard length of 10 – 12 episodes.

The spreadsheet with this information is available on request – please comment and I will be happy to email it to you if you want.

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Jinty 22 December 1979

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  • Pam of Pond Hill (writer Jay Over, artist Bob Harvey)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost – first episode (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Christmas Sweets and Nuts – feature
  • Spirit of the Lake – first episode (artist Phil Townsend, writer Benita Brown?)
  • Alley Cat
  • Tale of the Panto Cat
  • Toni on Trial (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Sports Pages – Tessa Sanderson
  • White Water (artist Jim Baikie)
  • When Statues Walk… – first episode (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • Black Sheep of the Bartons – final episode (artist Guy Peeters, writer Alison Christie)

My copy of this issue is so badly doodled from a previous owner that I had to go to Catawiki for a scan of the cover to put up. Thank you, Catawiki!

This issue starts Jinty’s Christmas fun, yet the three new stories that start in this issue all have ghost themes. The most significant of them is perhaps “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost”. Sir Roger and his fellow ghosts are outraged at how tourism and commercialism at Stoney Hall are destroying their respectability as ghosts. The other two resident ghosts walk out to haunt a nice quiet graveyard, but the Shop-Steward of Amalgamated Association of Resident Ghosts and Haunters (A.A.R.G.H!) gives Sir Roger the power to materialise sometimes so he can really put a scare into those pesky tourists. Sir Roger is all eager to start with Gaye, the caretaker’s daughter who is the worst of them all – but the blurb for next week hints that it’s not going to be as easy as that.

“When Statues Walk…” is the ghost story that really sets out to be scary. North Street has a reputation for being haunted, and weird things start happening when workings start there. Then the screaming really starts when Laura takes home some broken pottery from the site and reassembles the pieces. But it’s not her that’s screaming – it’s the Viking head that the pieces have made!

And the third ghost story is “Spirit of the Lake”, a supernatural companion story where the ghost offers coaching in skating as well as comfort to Karen Carstairs, who is not made to feel welcome in the home of her relatives.

It’s the last episode of “Black Sheep of the Bartons”. Bev was resorting to the desperate measure of quitting judo to gain her father’s trust. But now fate has enabled her to prove herself to him without giving up her beloved judo, and she’s a heroine too! And the ghost theme continues with a complete Christmas ghost story that will fill Bev’s old slot, and then a new story starts for New Year.

In part two of “Pam of Pond Hill”, Miss Peeble is having trouble finding her feet as a teacher. Fred and Terry take advantage to give her a bad time while Pam tries to help her, but it’s got her branded as teacher’s pet.

In “Tale of the Panto Cat”, Verna gets so spiteful at wrecking the Cinderella panto that she causes sabotage and injuries. And it looks like she’s achieved her aim – all the stars of the show are now out of action because of her. They really need a fairy godmother now if the show is to go on.

Everyone is picking on Toni at the athletics club because of her mother being branded a thief. Two girls are even playing spiteful tricks on her, and it looks like they’re set to continue for the duration of the story. And Bridie’s mum won’t even let her pursue canoeing, because she thinks all water sports are dangerous after the accident that killed her husband.

Jinty 8 December 1979

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Here we have a competition with “40 gay Gypsy dolls” to win (hmm, how times have changed over the use of the word ‘gay’). And it is an issue big on stories finishing or approaching their conclusions, so the decks are being cleared for the Christmas/New Year lineup.

The ending to “Combing Her Golden Hair” takes you completely by surprise because it’s not what you expect from stories about abusive guardians and salvation from magical objects. Next week Jinty’s most enduring regular, “Pam of Pond Hill” starts.

In the penultimate episode of “Waves of Fear”, Clare is now on the brink of suicide (strong stuff for a girls’ comic to hint at!), unaware that her luck is finally beginning to change. Once Rachel weasels the truth about Clare’s expulsion from that horrible Jean, people in authority finally begin to realise that Clare’s uncharacteristic behaviour is due to a mental illness, not cowardice or delinquency. But by the time they finally catch up to Clare, the search for her has led to Rachel facing another accident in the very same cave where the trouble started. So it’s all going to end where it began next week.

“My Heart Belongs to Buttons” is also on its penultimate episode, and it’s ironic. Julie, who has rejected Buttons II for so long, now can’t bear the thought of letting him go!

Black Sheep of the Bartons” is at its climax too, with Bev finally realising how selfish she has been when her thoughtless conduct leads to her sister Ruth going off in search of her, and now Ruth’s life is in danger.

Jinty starts her Christmas story “Tale of the Panto Cat”. Daisy Green Youth Club is planning their Christmas special, but bossy-boots Verna is spoiling everything, including Christmas, by taking over everything, from what they are to do for their special to the (dreadful) lines they are given. And everything Verna does is geared towards putting herself in the spotlight as the star of the show.

In “Toni on Trial”, Toni finally finds out what the mystery is about her late mother – she was accused of stealing a sports trophy. Now Toni is being tarred with the same brush by everyone in town, and it’s interfering with her running career. And the person wielding the biggest brush seems to be the sports coach, Miss Rogers. She tells Toni her mother was “nothing but a common thief” – and right in front of all the other athletes!

Bridie has vowed “White Water” will ride again, but runs into her first obstacle –her embittered mother, who is burning Dad’s sailing books.

Jinty Annual 1983

Jinty annual 1983

Jinty annual 1983

  • Little Sisters (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Do You Doodle? Feature
  • Carnival of Flowers – Gypsy Rose story (artist Guy Peeters)
  • Where Do You Fit In? Quiz (artist John Johnston)
  • Snoopa (artist Joe Collins)
  • The Mystery of Martine (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Growing Pains – text story
  • For the Love of Horses – feature
  • Make Music – feature
  • Desert Island Bookshelf – feature (artist Veronica Weir)
  • Picture of the Past (artist and writer Keith Robson)
  • Make Your Own Cards – feature
  • Pond Hill Bazaar – feature (artist Bob Harvey)
  • The Thirteenth Hour – Gypsy Rose story (artist Douglas Perry)
  • Box of Tricks – feature
  • Chance to Say Sorry – text story (artist Tony Coleman)
  • Call of the Sea – Gypsy Rose story
  • Perils of Babysitting – feature
  • It’s the Custom! Feature
  • Alley Cat
  • How to Make a Fortune Teller – feature
  • At the Top of the Tree – feature
  • No Place Like Home – Gypsy Rose story (artist Carlos Freixas)
  • Nothing to Wear – feature
  • Strawberry Handkerchief – Gypsy Rose story (artist Trini Tinturé)
  • Snoopa
  • Percy’s Christmas – text story
  • A Puzzle to Make – feature
  • All Around the World – feature
  • The Jigsaw Puzzle – text story (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Snowbound! Gypsy Rose story (artist Keith Robson)
  • Christmas with Dickens – feature (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Netball Quiz – feature

This could well be the annual where Jinty comes into her own, because she is no longer printing serials from older comics for the long story sections. Instead she is reprinting one of her own serials, “The Mystery of Martine“, in which an actress who plays a dangerous, obsessive woman who eventually burns down a house starts behaving exactly like the psycho. The story is reprinted in yellow colouring, which makes a nice change from the usual red to set off some black-and-white pages, or the blue that Jinty used for a while.

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The number of recycled Strange Stories as Gypsy Roses has been reduced (a couple of them were omitted from the Table of Contents for some reason); the rest are reprints of Gypsy Rose’s own stories this time. One Gypsy Rose story, “Picture of the Past” is unusual in that it is both written and drawn by the same person, Keith Robson. This is the second instance we have come across of stories being written and drawn by the same person in Jinty. Or girls’ comics for that matter.

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The cover is one of the most gorgeous covers I have ever seen in girls’ annuals. The artwork from Mario Capaldi is mouth-watering, but what really sets it off and makes it memorable is the use of the colouring. And don’t you just love exquisite pictures of Victorian times – oh, wait, is that a car and garage we see in the background, in subtle grey tones? Ah, we have very enterprising carol singers here who must have made a few extra quid by using Victorian costume.

Capaldi’s artwork continues on the first page with “Little Sisters”. This story appeared in the Tammy & Jinty merger, but the fact that it has an appearance in a Jinty annual suggests it was originally conceived for Jinty. “Little Sisters”, a popular story about a teenage girl, Carol, who finds her little sister Samantha “Sam” exasperating at times (yes, a lot of girls can relate to that) also continues the Christmas theme on the cover. Sam wants to know what is meant by “goodwill” at Christmas. She misunderstands when the family explain (not very well), but ends up sending a whole new message to them about the meaning of Christmas.

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The presence of “Little Sisters” may be the reason “Pam of Pond Hill” was reduced to a feature instead of its own story. But we get a whole new side to Pond Hill when we are shown what Pam & Co did for the school bazaar, complete with instructions on the items and games. Yes, it’s a different take on the obligatory craft-and-make features in any girls’ annual.

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In “Growing Pains” a quilting party is not Betsy’s idea of growing up. But quilting takes on a whole new meaning when her boyfriend Nathan leaves and his parting gift is a patch to sew into her quilt. This text story should have you thinking about quilting in a different light as well. And “A Chance to Say Sorry” reminds us that you are given a chance to make amends, take it. Ruth Oldham the youth drama group secretary is due to retire, but nobody likes her except Keith because she is a “bossy-boots, thinks she’s the greatest, and never lets anyone else get a word in edgeways”. Sounds like Verna from “Tale of the Panto Cat”. But unlike Verna, she turns out to be a sympathetic character with a problem. And “Percy’s Christmas” brings us the story of a know-it-all seagull who is havng trouble grasping the ways of humans and Christmas.

Some of the text features are really strong, informative, and you will read them over and over. “For the Love of Horses” tells us about Dorothy Brooke, a woman who went to track down the former World War I Army horses and mules and started rescuing them from animal abuse in Egypt. The end result was the Brooke Hospital for Animals in Cairo. I just had to show the feature to my World War I lecturer at university and she took a copy. I still wonder if the annual became a source in somebody’s essay or thesis because of this.

“I’ve Got Nothing to Wear” reminds us how lucky we are in being able to acquire clothes in comparison to clothes manufacturing in the past. Clothes had to be handmade, often from scratch, no patterns until Victorian times, and made to last because many people were lucky to have a second set of clothes.

Finally, “Christmas with Charles Dickens” rounds off the Christmas theme by telling us how Dickens celebrated Christmas. Not to mention how fit he must have been with the long walks he took all over London, sometimes covering as much as 15 miles. And he would return home ready for more while his friends were ready to collapse. The feature might have been even better if it had told us that A Christmas Carol revived Christmas at a time when it had fallen on such evil days many people didn’t bother with it. But I guess you can only put in so much into a two-page spread, plus spot illustration.

This annual definitely ranks as one of Jinty’s top annuals, one of her very best. It is well worth collecting. It is sad that the quality did not last – the next annual, though still good, reduced the Jinty content (no Gypsy Rose or Pam of Pond Hill), and the last two Jinty annuals contained just reprints of older material from other comics.

Tale of the Panto Cat (1979)

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Publication: 8 December 1979 – 29 December 1979

Artist: Unknown artist (Merry)

Writer: Unknown

Summary

In Daisy Green Youth Club, Verna is known as “the original panto cat”. She is conceited, bossy, domineering and self-centred. She walks over everyone to have everything her way.

The club members are discussing what to do for their Christmas special when Verna barrels in, tears up their suggestions and pushes ahead with her own – a pantomime for the kids who will be confined to Farley Hospital over the Christmas season. But Verna doesn’t stop there. She allows no discussion of what the pantomime will be – it must be Cinderella. Before the meeting is over, she casts everyone in the roles as she sees fit. And of course she casts herself as Cinderella. Gwen is feeling very indignant at the way Verna carries on.

But there is worse to come when Gwen finds Verna is writing the panto as well. She is astonished to find the script Verna gave her is only two pages long and the lines are awful. The same goes for everyone else, and they find out why at the next meeting – Verna’s part is three times as big as theirs! They reach their limit at this and shelve Verna’s script in favour of one in the club library. But they still give Verna a chance to be Cinderella if she is good. But of course the panto cat is anything but good, and in the end she finds herself without any role (not even as wicked stepmother, the only role that really suits her personality).

Gwen says they still have to let Verna be director, but that proves to be a bad mistake. Now the panto cat has lost the limelight she turns vicious. She gets her claws out and sets out to wreck the panto now she cannot be in it. As director, she tries to stir everything up, make everyone’s life a misery, and even smash the pumpkin. All this does is get her removed from the panto altogether.

Another club member, Minna, suggests they have Verna’s father make Cinderella’s coach. Gwen says they should keep Verna out, but Minna feels it is rotten to do so because it is Christmas. This is another bad mistake. Verna sabotages the coach so it will fall apart on the night. Instead it falls apart at a rehearsal, leaving Cinderella with a sprained ankle, Prince Charming with a black eye and the Fairy Godmother with an injured leg. It looks like the show is off and the panto cat has got the cream.

But then Gwen has a brainwave – convert a piece of the coach into a puppet theatre and have a puppet Cinderella show instead. Unfortunately, Minna tells Verna about how they have salvaged the disaster, thinking she is acting in the spirit of Christmas. So the cat gets ready to pounce again. On the night of the show, Verna tries to sabotage them at the club as they make preparations to set off. She fails, and her tricks put Gwen on her guard.

At the hospital, Gwen sends Verna on an errand to get her out of the way. Verna spots a jug of water in a ward and goes in for it, planning to spill it on the puppets and make them too wet to use. But she failed to spot a warning notice on the door saying there is a child with scarlet fever quarantined in the ward. Verna has got too close to the child, and the nurse tells Verna she now has to be quarantined as well. The cat’s last minute pounce to wreck things has backfired. Verna has to spend Christmas in quarantine (later the editor informs us in the letter page that she did not contract scarlet fever) and watch the show she tried to sabotage through the observation window.

The show is a huge success and everyone except Verna enjoys it. Afterwards, the girls have a Christmas party back at the club and Verna’s fate gives them all the more reason to celebrate. Minna says she enjoyed the panto despite all the problems and they must do it again.

Thoughts

“Tale of the Panto Cat” was one of the Christmas-themed filler stories that Jinty ran over her build up to Christmas. But what Christmas message does this tale of spite, sabotage and deliberate attempts to wreck a Christmas production have for readers? Well, every Christmas has a Grinch somewhere. If Jinty ever had a Grinch story, this has to be it. But unlike her Seuss counterpart, the heart of Verna does not swell to the right size when faced with the spirit of Christmas. Rather, she destroys herself in her efforts to wreck the show. It backfires on her and she ends up spending Christmas in quarantine.

Instead of a sentimental story about the true spirit of Christmas, we get a more typical story of an unpleasant type who causes trouble and getting her eventual comeuppance. Christmas is used more as the theme and setting for the story. This makes the story a nice, refreshing, atypical break from the more standard Christmas fare in girls’ comics. And Verna does not change into a nicer person in the light of Christmas, which makes it even more realistic.

Minna is the only one who strives for real Christmas spirit in the way she insists on keeping Verna in the loop over the panto. But in so doing she unwittingly helps Verna to cause more trouble. Perhaps the story is making a statement that the spirit of Christmas is lost on some people. In fact, although it was Verna’s idea to put on the show for the children in hospital, Verna clearly did not do it for the sake of the kids. All she cared about was being the star of the show and the centre of attention. When she could not have that, she turned just plain vindictive and set out to wreck things in any which way she could with no thought for the kids or anyone else. That is hardly the way to behave, much less at Christmas time. One can only hope Verna left the club for good after she came out of quarantine and was not around to interfere with the next Christmas special.

Jinty 29 December 1979

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  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)
  • Spirit of the Lake (artist Phil Townsend)
  • Tale of the Panto Cat – last episode (unknown artist Merry)
  • Toni on Trial (artist Terry Aspin)
  • Rinty ‘n’ Jinty
  • White Water (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Forget-me-not at Christmas – complete story (artist Guy Peeters)
  • When Statues Walk… (artist Phil Gascoine)

It is Jinty‘s Christmas issue for 1979 and Jinty makes it a big celebration. Even the stories that do not feature Christmas still celebrate it with snow-covered logos and/or holly. There is a nice touch of humour on the cover with the cat playing with the tinsel garland. That is just the sort of thing a cat might play with.

The Christmas issue starts off with a quiz “Make it your wishbone Christmas”. In fact, the quiz is the first thing you see when you open the cover. The break from a picture story starting things off sure makes it clear how serious Jinty is about celebrating Christmas. Her 1979 Christmas story, “Tale of the Panto Cat” concludes with this issue, of course. Everything ends happily of course – except for our would-be-grinch Verna, who spends her Christmas in quarantine when her last trick to spoil the Christmas panto backfires.

Despite the happy ending and the efforts of one girl in “Panto Cat” to remember the Christmas spirit, even with Verna, there is not much Christmas message in the story. That is reserved for “Forget-me-not at Christmas”, a very poignant story of a Victorian waif who was invited to a rich girl’s party but was turned away because they forgot she was invited. She sat outside in the snow waiting to be remembered. But by the time they did, poor Forget-me-not had frozen to death! In the 20th century, Sandie Hurst encounters the ghost of Forget-me-not and invites her to their Christmas party. Will Forget-me-not be remembered this time?

Alley Cat tries to raise money for Christmas from carol singing, but thrown boots and smashed windows tell you how good he is at carol singing. But in the end he does get a happy Christmas because he unwittingly did the Muchloots a favour.

Jinty 15 December 1979

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(cover artist: Bob Harvey)

  • Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)
  • Waves of Fear – last episode (artist Phil Gascoine)
  • My Heart Belongs to Buttons – last episode (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • Toni on Trial (artist Terry Aspin)
  • White Water (artist Jim Baikie)
  • Bizzie Bet and the Easies – last episode (artist Richard Neillands)
  • Tale of the Panto Cat (unknown artist – Merry)
  • Black Sheep of the Bartons (artist Guy Peeters)

As the cover depicts, this is the issue where we see the debut of Jinty‘s most enduring regular, “Pam of Pond Hill”. She was the most enduring because she lasted through the merger with Tammy and became a Tammy regular. Pam was, of course, the Jinty version of Grange Hill. Her strip opens with her telling us how her first day at Pond Hill went. You get a pretty good idea of how it goes when the aniseed balls Pam’s gran gave her go over the landing and onto the heads of sixth formers below! Pam finds a kindred spirit in her form teacher, Miss Peeble. It’s Miss Peeble’s first day at ‘The Pond’ too, and she is off to a bad start as well. We know things will get better, but what do our newcomers go through in the meantime?

As well as starting a new story, this issue sees off three stories. “Waves of Fear” ends with Clare striving for redemption for her original failure by rescuing Rachel, who is facing another accident in the cave. And Rachel, who originally demanded to know why Clare ran off the first time, is the one who now tells her why – claustrophobia, not cowardice. Waves of Fear will be replaced by another Phil Gascoine story, “When Statues Walk…”, the following week. Jinty sure liked to keep Gascoine busy, didn’t she? “Spirit of the Lake” takes over from “My Heart Belongs to Buttons” in the next issue. The regular humour strip, “Bizzie Bet and the Easies”, will replaced by a more enduring one, “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost”, the following week. And a fourth strip, “Black Sheep of the Bartons” is now on its penultimate episode. This means we see another new story for the Christmas or New Year issue. Well, it is December after all. December is a time for farewelling the old and bringing in the new for next year.

You might call Jinty‘s 1979 Christmas strip, “Tale of the Panto Cat”, a grinch story. Bossy Verna wants to pull all the strings of her youth club’s Christmas panto and be star of the show as well. When she does not get her way because everyone is getting fed up with her, she sets out to ruin the panto.  We eagerly wait to see what role the Christmas season will play here.

Unknown Artist (Merry)

A number of the artists on Jinty remain as yet unidentified. One of the main artists we would love to identify is the person who drew one of the Jinty stories in the very first issue, “Merry at Misery House”. For convenience in this article, I will use the pronoun ‘her’ for this artist, and refer to her as ‘Merry’. (Of course, I have no knowledge at present as to whether she really was a female artist, or anything much about her. I like to think she may have been a British artist; somehow I get a vibe of classic British style, as if her art would be right at home in a Bunty or Girl annual from a previous decade. I also like to think she may be female, but if asked to substantiate my feeling I would have to go down some route of gender essentialisation, pointing to the delicate lines or similar, so I shall avoid doing that. That is, any guesswork is all supposition and imagination!)

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‘Merry’ seems to have been particularly associated with Terence Magee at various points in time: she drew “Merry at Misery House” in Jinty, but also “Four Friends At Spartan School” (published in Tammy in 1971-72), and “Slave of the Trapeze” (published in Sandie in September 1972, but originally commissioned for Tammy). The Jinty stories attributable to her are as follows:

  • Merry at Misery House (1974)
  • Hettie High-And-Mighty (1975)
  • Friends of the Forest (1976)
  • Miss Make-Believe (1979)
  • Casey, Come Back (1979)
  • Tale of the Panto Cat (1979)

The post about “Merry at Misery House” also includes artwork from “Four Friends at Spartan School”. In these earlier stories, the composition of individual panels is mostly based around a middle distance view: the characters are seen full body, or three-quarters, and you get lots of interaction between them. The slightly later story “Friends of the Forest” (above), in particular, gives a ‘closer up’ feel, with tight focus on the faces of the characters. In this example there are fewer panels on a page, too, giving a more open feel. It is really nice to see an artist changing the way they work as they go along and experimenting with new looks; as a reader you feel that it wasn’t just a treadmill or a grindstone, despite the busy schedule that many of the artists must have put in to create so many pages of amazing art.

I should also add that some of the stories attributed above to ‘Merry’ have previously been attributed to other artists: “Hettie High-And-Mighty” to Jordi Badia, and “Miss Make-Believe” tentatively to Sarompas. I am however confident of this attribution to ‘Merry’; there is a typical stance that she draws with hands in a specific position that is unmistakable. I will feature it when I come to illustrate “Miss Make-Believe” later; it can also be seen in the bottom-left panel of this page from “Hettie High-And-Mighty”:

(click thru)
(click thru)

Any information leading to a positive identification of this artist will be very gratefully received.

Edited to add: other stories drawn by this artist include

(Other IPC titles)

  • The School of No Escape (Sandie, 1972)
  • Slave of the Trapeze (Sandie, 1972)
  • Fiona and the Fighting Finsters (Sandie, 1972)

(D C Thomson titles)

  • Bess’s Secret Brother (Judy, 1984)